Friday, October 18

First from Sarawak

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Pueh Camp in Sematan to undergo certification and accreditation with another camp from Selangor

Fadilah (centre) together with Sebastian (third right) and Bujang (second right) in a group photo after the meeting. Also seen are (from right) Alim, Granda, Hussalmizzar and Azmi.

KUCHING: The Pueh Camp in Sematan near here has been identified as the first eco-tourism destination from the state to undergo certification and accreditation, simultaneously with Selangor’s Kem Bina Semangat Ampang Pecah in Kuala Kubu Baru.

Covering an area of 173 acres and established in the 1990s, it is one of the oldest camps in Sarawak.

The Department of Standards Malaysia (Standards Malaysia) director-general Datuk Fadilah Baharin revealed yesterday that the audit check on Pueh Camp to ascertain what improvement and further development needed to be done would be carried out sometime next month.

“This is my second visit to plan for this project and collaboration with Sarawak which shall be secured once everything is in place,” she said.

“Moreover, Standards Malaysia also intends to expand the project to other tourist attraction spots and we will do this stage by stage,” she added.

Fadilah was here to pay a courtesy call on Social Development Ministry which was represented by its principal assistant secretaries Bujang Budin and Sebastian Sujang (Development) at Baitulmakmur Building in Petra Jaya here.

Standards Malaysia and Malaysian Tropical Environment Adventure and Fellowship Society (MyLEAF) will collaborate with Social Development Ministry and Dayak National Congress to promote Sarawak’s eco-adventure tourism.

Standards Malaysia will also help to position Sarawak as a globally competitive eco-adventure tourism destination anchored by standardisation and accreditation with Pueh Camp.

Standards Malaysia and MyLEAF had last year successfully organised the Gawai Adventure Camp in Pueh Camp and they hoped to see more exciting Gawai activities this year.

Though the project was still in its early planning stage, Sebastian assured that the ministry looked forward to working together with Standards Malaysia to earn the accreditation and certification.

Once achieved, Malaysia would be the first in the world to introduce and implement eco-tourism for tropical forest based on guidelines approved by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), said Fadilah.

“The world is actually watching and eagerly waiting for Malaysia to earn this eco tourism standard. It took us seven years to get the ISO guidelines approved, just last year,” she said.

“Credible certification standards are important to improve the quality of eco-adventure tourism products and services that meet the quality, safety and security,” she emphasised.

Quality standards, she continued, was a way of ensuring that any activity or product within the eco tourism sector met at least the minimum but strict environment, social and economic criteria.

She pointed out that it would involve three aspects – leaders’ competency, safety and tour guides.

“The standards will apply to outdoor activities like hiking, water rafting, camping; accommodation and facilities; certified trainers, instructors and tour guides; and the environmental responsibilities for the natural surrounding including jungle, forest, sea and all natural resources,” she explained.

“It is important to raise the level of professionalism and confidence nationally and internationally in order to attract global travellers to Malaysia,” she emphasised.

This initiative, she added, was in line with the government’s aspiration to enhance the tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy.

On choosing Sarawak, Fadilah pointed out that the state had much to offer to domestic visitors and foreign tourists particularly.

“Sarawak is distinct for its eco adventure tourism… to experience the real nature and diversity of the outdoor. Sarawak eco-adventure tourism has huge potential to open doors globally,” she highlighted.

Meanwhile, MyLEAF vice president Granda Aing hopes Petronas, which gives priority to human resource development, will support the programme as part of their corporate social responsibility.

“Budget constraint at times is one of the challenges that need to be addressed and we need private initiatives to help us achieve this,” he added.

Also present were Dayak National Congress central committee member Alim GA Mideh, Standards Malaysia director (Strategic Planning Division) Hussalmizzar Husaain and MyLEAF secretary general Azmi Nashriby Abu Zahar.